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The Story of Mankind by Hendrik van Loon

Part 5 out of 8

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and the Estates General took their decision (which meant a
slow death in case of defeat) within hearing of the Spanish
guns and although in constant fear of an avenging Spanish

The stories about a mysterious Spanish fleet that was to conquer
both Holland and England, when Protestant Queen
Elizabeth had succeeded Catholic ``Bloody Mary'' was an old
one. For years the sailors of the waterfront had talked
about it. In the eighties of the sixteenth century, the
rumour took a definite shape. According to pilots who had
been in Lisbon, all the Spanish and Portuguese wharves were
building ships. And in the southern Netherlands (in Belgium)
the Duke of Parma was collecting a large expeditionary
force to be carried from Ostend to London and Amsterdam
as soon as the fleet should arrive.

In the year 1586 the Great Armada set sail for the north.
But the harbours of the Flemish coast were blockaded by a
Dutch fleet and the Channel was guarded by the English, and
the Spaniards, accustomed to the quieter seas of the south, did
not know how to navigate in this squally and bleak northern
climate. What happened to the Armada once it was attacked
by ships and by storms I need not tell you. A few ships, by
sailing around Ireland, escaped to tell the terrible story of
defeat. The others perished and lie at the bottom of the North

Turn about is fair play. The British nod the Dutch Prot-
estants now carried the war into the territory of the enemy.
Before the end of the century, Houtman, with the help of a
booklet written by Linschoten (a Hollander who had been in
the Portuguese service), had at last discovered the route to
the Indies. As a result the great Dutch East India Company
was founded and a systematic war upon the Portuguese and
Spanish colonies in Asia and Africa was begun in all seriousness.

It was during this early era of colonial conquest that a
curious lawsuit was fought out in the Dutch courts. Early in
the seventeenth century a Dutch Captain by the name of van
Heemskerk, a man who had made himself famous as the head
of an expedition which had tried to discover the North Eastern
Passage to the Indies and who had spent a winter on the frozen
shores of the island of Nova Zembla, had captured a Portuguese
ship in the straits of Malacca. You will remember that
the Pope had divided the world into two equal shares, one of
which had been given to the Spaniards and the other to the
Portuguese. The Portuguese quite naturally regarded the
water which surrounded their Indian islands as part of their
own property and since, for the moment, they were not at war
with the United Seven Netherlands, they claimed that the
captain of a private Dutch trading company had no right to
enter their private domain and steal their ships. And they
brought suit. The directors of the Dutch East India Company
hired a bright young lawyer, by the name of De Groot or
Grotius, to defend their case. He made the astonishing plea
that the ocean is free to all comers. Once outside the distance
which a cannon ball fired from the land can reach, the sea is
or (according to Grotius) ought to be, a free and open highway
to all the ships of all nations. It was the first time that this
startling doctrine had been publicly pronounced in a court
of law. It was opposed by all the other seafaring people. To
counteract the effect of Grotius' famous plea for the ``Mare
Liberum,'' or ``Open Sea,'' John Selden, the Englishman,
wrote his famous treatise upon the ``Mare Clausum'' or ``Closed
Sea'' which treated of the natural right of a sovereign to regard
the seas which surrounded his country as belonging to his territory.
I mention this here because the question had not yet
been decided and during the last war caused all sorts of
difficulties and complications.

To return to the warfare between Spaniard and Hollander
and Englishman, before twenty years were over the most
valuable colonies of the Indies and the Cape of Good Hope and
Ceylon and those along the coast of China and even Japan were
in Protestant hands. In 1621 a West Indian Company was
founded which conquered Brazil and in North America built
a fortress called Nieuw Amsterdam at the mouth of the river
which Henry Hudson had discovered in the year 1609

These new colonies enriched both England and the Dutch
Republic to such an extent that they could hire foreign soldiers
to do their fighting on land while they devoted themselves
to commerce and trade. To them the Protestant revolt meant
independence and prosperity. But in many other parts of
Europe it meant a succession of horrors compared to which the
last war was a mild excursion of kindly Sunday-school boys.

The Thirty Years War which broke out in the year 1618
and which ended with the famous treaty of Westphalia in 1648
was the perfectly natural result of a century of ever increasing
religious hatred. It was, as I have said, a terrible war. Everybody
fought everybody else and the struggle ended only when
all parties had been thoroughly exhausted and could fight no

In less than a generation it turned many parts of central
Europe into a wilderness, where the hungry peasants fought
for the carcass of a dead horse with the even hungrier wolf.
Five-sixths of all the German towns and villages were destroyed.
The Palatinate, in western Germany, was plundered
twenty-eight times. And a population of eighteen million
people was reduced to four million.

The hostilities began almost as soon as Ferdinand II of
the House of Habsburg had been elected Emperor. He was
the product of a most careful Jesuit training and was a most
obedient and devout son of the Church. The vow which he had
made as a young man, that he would eradicate all sects and
all heresies from his domains, Ferdinand kept to the best of
his ability. Two days before his election, his chief opponent,
Frederick, the Protestant Elector of the Palatinate and a
son-in-law of James I of England, had been made King of
Bohemia, in direct violation of Ferdinand's wishes.

At once the Habsburg armies marched into Bohemia. The
young king looked in vain for assistance against this formidable
enemy. The Dutch Republic was willing to help, but,
engaged in a desperate war of its own with the Spanish branch
of the Habsburgs, it could do little. The Stuarts in England
were more interested in strengthening their own absolute power
at home than spending money and men upon a forlorn adventure
in far away Bohemia. After a struggle of a few months,
the Elector of the Palatinate was driven away and his domains
were given to the Catholic house of Bavaria. This was the beginning
of the great war.

Then the Habsburg armies, under Tilly and Wallenstein,
fought their way through the Protestant part of Germany
until they had reached the shores of the Baltic. A Catholic
neighbour meant serious danger to the Protestant king of
Denmark. Christian IV tried to defend himself by attacking
his enemies before they had become too strong for him. The
Danish armies marched into Germany but were defeated.
Wallenstein followed up his victory with such energy and violence
that Denmark was forced to sue for peace. Only one
town of the Baltic then remained in the hands of the Protestants.
That was Stralsund.

There, in the early summer of the year 1630, landed King
Gustavus Adolphus of the house of Vasa, king of Sweden,
and famous as the man who had defended his country against
the Russians. A Protestant prince of unlimited ambition,
desirous of making Sweden the centre of a great Northern
Empire, Gustavus Adolphus was welcomed by the Protestant
princes of Europe as the saviour of the Lutheran cause. He
defeated Tilly, who had just successfully butchered the Protestant
inhabitants of Magdeburg. Then his troops began their
great march through the heart of Germany in an attempt to
reach the Habsburg possessions in Italy. Threatened in the
rear by the Catholics, Gustavus suddenly veered around and
defeated the main Habsburg army in the battle of Lutzen.
Unfortunately the Swedish king was killed when he strayed
away from his troops. But the Habsburg power had been

Ferdinand, who was a suspicious sort of person, at once
began to distrust his own servants. Wallenstein, his commander-
in-chief, was murdered at his instigation. When the
Catholic Bourbons, who ruled France and hated their Habsburg
rivals, heard of this, they joined the Protestant Swedes.
The armies of Louis XIII invaded the eastern part of Germany,
and Turenne and Conde added their fame to that of
Baner and Weimar, the Swedish generals, by murdering, pillaging
and burning Habsburg property. This brought great
fame and riches to the Swedes and caused the Danes to become
envious. The Protestant Danes thereupon declared war upon
the Protestant Swedes who were the allies of the Catholic
French, whose political leader, the Cardinal de Richelieu, had
just deprived the Huguenots (or French Protestants) of those
rights of public worship which the Edict of Nantes of the year
1598 had guaranteed them.

The war, after the habit of such encounters, did not decide
anything, when it came to an end with the treaty of Westphalia
in 1648. The Catholic powers remained Catholic and
the Protestant powers stayed faithful to the doctrines of
Luther and Calvin and Zwingli. The Swiss and Dutch Protestants
were recognised as independent republics. France
kept the cities of Metz and Toul and Verdun and a part of the
Alsace. The Holy Roman Empire continued to exist as a sort
of scare-crow state, without men, without money, without hope
and without courage.

The only good the Thirty Years War accomplished was a
negative one. It discouraged both Catholics and Protestants
from ever trying it again. Henceforth they left each other in
peace. This however did not mean that religious feeling and
theological hatred had been removed from this earth. On the
contrary. The quarrels between Catholic and Protestant
came to an end, but the disputes between the different Protestant
sects continued as bitterly as ever before. In Holland
a difference of opinion as to the true nature of predestination
(a very obscure point of theology, but exceedingly important
the eyes of your great-grandfather) caused a quarrel which
ended with the decapitation of John of Oldenbarneveldt, the
Dutch statesman, who had been responsible for the success of
the Republic during the first twenty years of its independence,
and who was the great organising genius of her Indian trading
company. In England, the feud led to civil war.

But before I tell you of this outbreak which led to the first
execution by process-of-law of a European king, I ought to
say something about the previous history of England. In this
book I am trying to give you only those events of the past
which can throw a light upon the conditions of the present
world. If I do not mention certain countries, the cause is not
to be found in any secret dislike on my part. I wish that I
could tell you what happened to Norway and Switzerland and
Serbia and China. But these lands exercised no great influence
upon the development of Europe in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. I therefore pass them by with a polite
and very respectful bow. England however is in a different
position. What the people of that small island have done during
the last five hundred years has shaped the course of history
in every corner of the world. Without a proper knowledge of
the background of English history, you cannot understand
what you read in the newspapers. And it is therefore necessary
that you know how England happened to develop a parliamentary
form of government while the rest of the European continent
was still ruled by absolute monarchs.



CAESAR, the earliest explorer of north-western Europe, had
crossed the Channel in the year 55 B.C. and had conquered
England. During four centuries the country then remained
a Roman province. But when the Barbarians began to
threaten Rome, the garrisons were called back from the frontier
that they might defend the home country and Britannia
was left without a government and without protection.

As soon as this became known among the hungry Saxon
tribes of northern Germany, they sailed across the North Sea
and made themselves at home in the prosperous island. They
founded a number of independent Anglo-Saxon kingdoms
(so called after the original Angles or English and the Saxon
invaders) but these small states were for ever quarrelling with
each other and no King was strong enough to establish himself
as the head of a united country. For more than five hundred
years, Mercia and Northumbria and Wessex and Sussex
and Kent and East Anglia, or whatever their names, were
exposed to attacks from various Scandinavian pirates. Finally
in the eleventh century, England, together with Norway and
northern Germany became part of the large Danish Empire
of Canute the Great and the last vestiges of independence

The Danes, in the course of time, were driven away but no
sooner was England free, than it was conquered for the fourth
time. The new enemies were the descendants of another tribe
of Norsemen who early in the tenth century had invaded
France and had founded the Duchy of Normandy. William,
Duke of Normandy, who for a long time had looked across the
water with an envious eye, crossed the Channel in October
of the year 1066. At the battle of Hastings, on October the
fourteenth of that year, he destroyed the weak forces of Harold
of Wessex, the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings and established
himself as King of England. But neither William nor his
successors of the House of Anjou and Plantagenet regarded
England as their true home. To them the island was merely a
part of their great inheritance on the continent--a sort of
colony inhabited by rather backward people upon whom they
forced their own language and civilisation. Gradually however
the ``colony'' of England gained upon the ``Mother
country'' of Normandy. At the same time the Kings of
France were trying desperately to get rid of the powerful Norman-
English neighbours who were in truth no more than disobedient
servants of the French crown. After a century of war
fare the French people, under the leadership of a young girl by
the name of Joan of Arc, drove the ``foreigners'' from their
soil. Joan herself, taken a prisoner at the battle of Compiegne
in the year 1430 and sold by her Burgundian captors to the
English soldiers, was burned as a witch. But the English
never gained foothold upon the continent and their Kings were
at last able to devote all their time to their British possessions.
As the feudal nobility of the island had been engaged in one of
those strange feuds which were as common in the middle ages
as measles and small-pox, and as the greater part of the old
landed proprietors had been killed during these so-called Wars
of the Roses, it was quite easy for the Kings to increase their
royal power. And by the end of the fifteenth century, England
was a strongly centralised country, ruled by Henry VII
of the House of Tudor, whose famous Court of Justice, the
``Star Chamber'' of terrible memory, suppressed all attempts
on the part of the surviving nobles to regain their old influence
upon the government of the country with the utmost severity.

In the year 1509 Henry VII was succeeded by his son
Henry VIII, and from that moment on the history of England
gained a new importance for the country ceased to be a
mediaeval island and became a modern state.

Henry had no deep interest in religion. He gladly used a
private disagreement with the Pope about one of his many
divorces to declare himself independent of Rome and make
the church of England the first of those ``nationalistic churches''
in which the worldly ruler also acts as the spiritual head of his
subjects. This peaceful reformation of 1034 not only gave
the house of Tudor the support of the English clergy, who
for a long time had been exposed to the violent attacks of many
Lutheran propagandists, but it also increased the Royal power
through the confiscation of the former possessions of the
monasteries. At the same time it made Henry popular with the
merchants and tradespeople, who as the proud and prosperous
inhabitants of an island which was separated from the rest of
Europe by a wide and deep channel, had a great dislike for
everything ``foreign'' and did not want an Italian bishop to rule
their honest British souls.

In 1517 Henry died. He left the throne to his small son,
aged ten. The guardians of the child, favoring the modern
Lutheran doctrines, did their best to help the cause of Protestantism.
But the boy died before he was sixteen, and was succeeded
by his sister Mary, the wife of Philip II of Spain, who
burned the bishops of the new ``national church'' and in other
ways followed the example of her royal Spanish husband

Fortunately she died, in the year 1558, and was succeeded
by Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn,
the second of his six wives, whom he had decapitated when she
no longer pleased him. Elizabeth, who had spent some time in
prison, and who had been released only at the request of the
Holy Roman Emperor, was a most cordial enemy of everything
Catholic and Spanish. She shared her father's indifference
in the matter of religion but she inherited his ability as a
very shrewd judge of character, and spent the forty-five years
of her reign in strengthening the power of the dynasty and in
increasing the revenue and possessions of her merry islands.
In this she was most ably assisted by a number of men who
gathered around her throne and made the Elizabethan age a
period of such importance that you ought to study it in detail
in one of the special books of which I shall tell you in the
bibliography at the end of this volume.

Elizabeth, however, did not feel entirely safe upon her
throne. She had a rival and a very dangerous one. Mary,
of the house of Stuart, daughter of a French duchess and a
Scottish father, widow of king Francis II of France and
daughter-in-law of Catherine of Medici (who had organised
the murders of Saint Bartholomew's night), was the mother of
a little boy who was afterwards to become the first Stuart king
of England. She was an ardent Catholic and a willing friend
to those who were the enemies of Elizabeth. Her own lack
of political ability and the violent methods which she employed
to punish her Calvinistic subjects, caused a revolution in Scotland
and forced Mary to take refuge on English territory. For
eighteen years she remained in England, plotting forever and
a day against the woman who had given her shelter and who
was at last obliged to follow the advice of her trusted councilors
``to cutte off the Scottish Queen's heade.''

The head was duly ``cutte off'' in the year 1587 and caused
a war with Spain. But the combined navies of England and
Holland defeated Philip's Invincible Armada, as we have already
seen, and the blow which had been meant to destroy the
power of the two great anti-Catholic leaders was turned into a
profitable business adventure.

For now at last, after many years of hesitation, the English
as well as the Dutch thought it their good right to invade
the Indies and America and avenge the ills which their Protes-
tent brethren had suffered at the hands of the Spaniards. The
English had been among the earliest successors of Columbus.
British ships, commanded by the Venetian pilot Giovanni Caboto
(or Cabot), had been the first to discover and explore the
northern American continent in 1496. Labrador and Newfoundland
were of little importance as a possible colony. But
the banks of Newfoundland offered a rich reward to the
English fishing fleet. A year later, in 1497, the same Cabot
had explored the coast of Florida.

Then had come the busy years of Henry VII and Henry
VIII when there had been no money for foreign explorations.
But under Elizabeth, with the country at peace and Mary
Stuart in prison, the sailors could leave their harbour without
fear for the fate of those whom they left behind. While Elizabeth
was still a child, Willoughby had ventured to sail past the
North Cape and one of his captains, Richard Chancellor, pushing
further eastward in his quest of a possible road to the Indies,
had reached Archangel, Russia, where he had established
diplomatic and commercial relations with the mysterious rulers
of this distant Muscovite Empire. During the first years of
Elizabeth's rule this voyage had been followed up by many
others. Merchant adventurers, working for the benefit of a
``joint stock Company'' had laid the foundations of trading
companies which in later centuries were to become colonies.
Half pirate, half diplomat, willing to stake everything on a
single lucky voyage, smugglers of everything that could be
loaded into the hold of a vessel, dealers in men and merchandise
with equal indifference to everything except their profit, the
sailors of Elizabeth had carried the English flag and the fame
of their Virgin Queen to the four corners of the Seven Seas.
Meanwhile William Shakespeare kept her Majesty amused at
home, and the best brains and the best wit of England co-operated
with the queen in her attempt to change the feudal inheritance
of Henry VIII into a modern national state.

In the year 1603 the old lady died at the age of seventy.
Her cousin, the great-grandson of her own grandfather Henry
VII and son of Mary Stuart, her rival and enemy, succeeded
her as James I. By the Grace of God, he found himself the
ruler of a country which had escaped the fate of its continental
rivals. While the European Protestants and Catholics were
killing each other in a hopeless attempt to break the power of
their adversaries and establish the exclusive rule of their own
particular creed, England was at peace and ``reformed'' at
leisure without going to the extremes of either Luther or
Loyola. It gave the island kingdom an enormous advantage in
the coming struggle for colonial possessions. It assured England
a leadership in international affairs which that country
has maintained until the present day. Not even the disastrous
adventure with the Stuarts was able to stop this normal development.

The Stuarts, who succeeded the Tudors, were ``foreigners''
in England. They do not seem to have appreciated or understood
this fact. The native house of Tudor could steal a horse,
but the ``foreign'' Stuarts were not allowed to look at the
bridle without causing great popular disapproval. Old Queen
Bess had ruled her domains very much as she pleased. In
general however, she had always followed a policy which meant
money in the pocket of the honest (and otherwise) British
merchants. Hence the Queen had been always assured of the
wholehearted support of her grateful people. And small liberties
taken with some of the rights and prerogatives of Parliament
were gladly overlooked for the ulterior benefits which
were derived from her Majesty's strong and successful foreign

Outwardly King James continued the same policy. But he
lacked that personal enthusiasm which had been so very typical
of his great predecessor. Foreign commerce continued to be
encouraged. The Catholics were not granted any liberties.
But when Spain smiled pleasantly upon England in an effort
to establish peaceful relations, James was seen to smile back.
The majority of the English people did not like this, but
James was their King and they kept quiet.

Soon there were other causes of friction. King James and
his son, Charles I, who succeeded him in the year 1625 both
firmly believed in the principle of their ``divine right'' to
administer their realm as they thought fit without consulting the
wishes of their subjects. The idea was not new. The Popes,
who in more than one way had been the successors of the
Roman Emperors (or rather of the Roman Imperial ideal of
a single and undivided state covering the entire known world),
had always regarded themselves and had been publicly recognised
as the ``Vice-Regents of Christ upon Earth.'' No one
questioned the right of God to rule the world as He saw fit.
As a natural result, few ventured to doubt the right of the
divine ``Vice-Regent'' to do the same thing and to demand the
obedience of the masses because he was the direct representative
of the Absolute Ruler of the Universe and responsible
only to Almighty God.

When the Lutheran Reformation proved successful, those
rights which formerly had been invested in the Papacy were
taken over by the many European sovereigns who became
Protestants. As head of their own national or dynastic
churches they insisted upon being ``Christ's Vice-Regents''
within the limit of their own territory. The people did not question
the right of their rulers to take such a step. They accepted
it, just as we in our own day accept the idea of a representative
system which to us seems the only reasonable and just
form of government. It is unfair therefore to state that either
Lutheranism or Calvinism caused the particular feeling of
irritation which greeted King-James's oft and loudly repeated
assertion of his ``Divine Right.'' There must have been other
grounds for the genuine English disbelief in the Divine Right
of Kings.

The first positive denial of the ``Divine Right'' of sovereigns
had been heard in the Netherlands when the Estates General
abjured their lawful sovereign King Philip II of Spain, in the
year 1581. ``The King,'' so they said, ``has broken his contract
and the King therefore is dismissed like any other unfaithful
servant.'' Since then, this particular idea of a king's
responsibilities towards his subjects had spread among many of the
nations who inhabited the shores of the North Sea. They were
in a very favourable position. They were rich. The poor people
in the heart of central Europe, at the mercy of their
Ruler's body-guard, could not afford to discuss a problem
which would at once land them in the deepest dungeon of the
nearest castle. But the merchants of Holland and England
who possessed the capital necessary for the maintenance of
great armies and navies, who knew how to handle the almighty
weapon called ``credit,'' had no such fear. They were willing
to pit the ``Divine Right'' of their own good money against
the ``Divine Right'' of any Habsburg or Bourbon or Stuart.
They knew that their guilders and shillings could beat the
clumsy feudal armies which were the only weapons of the King.
They dared to act, where others were condemned to suffer
in silence or run the risk of the scaffold.

When the Stuarts began to annoy the people of England
with their claim that they had a right to do what they pleased
and never mind the responsibility, the English middle classes
used the House of Commons as their first line of defence
against this abuse of the Royal Power. The Crown refused to
give in and the King sent Parliament about its own business.
Eleven long years, Charles I ruled alone. He levied taxes
which most people regarded as illegal and he managed his
British kingdom as if it had been his own country estate. He
had capable assistants and we must say that he had the courage
of his convictions.

Unfortunately, instead of assuring himself of the support
of his faithful Scottish subjects, Charles became involved in
a quarrel with the Scotch Presbyterians. Much against his
will, but forced by his need for ready cash, Charles was at
last obliged to call Parliament together once more. It met in
April of 1640 and showed an ugly temper. It was dissolved
a few weeks later. A new Parliament convened in November.
This one was even less pliable than the first one. The members
understood that the question of ``Government by Divine
Right'' or ``Government by Parliament'' must be fought out
for good and all. They attacked the King in his chief councillors
and executed half a dozen of them. They announced that
they would not allow themselves to be dissolved without their
own approval. Finally on December 1, 1641, they presented
to the King a ``Grand Remonstrance'' which gave a detailed
account of the many grievances of the people against their Ruler.

Charles, hoping to derive some support for his own policy
in the country districts, left London in January of 1642. Each
side organised an army and prepared for open warfare between
the absolute power of the crown and the absolute power
of Parliament. During this struggle, the most powerful religious
element of England, called the Puritans, (they were
Anglicans who had tried to purify their doctrines to the most
absolute limits), came quickly to the front. The regiments of
``Godly men,'' commanded by Oliver Cromwell, with their
iron discipline and their profound confidence in the holiness of
their aims, soon became the model for the entire army of the
opposition. Twice Charles was defeated. After the battle
of Naseby, in 1645, he fled to Scotland. The Scotch sold him
to the English.

There followed a period of intrigue and an uprising
of the Scotch Presbyterians against the English Puritan.
In August of the year 1648 after the three-days' battle of
Preston Pans, Cromwell made an end to this second civil war,
and took Edinburgh. Meanwhile his soldiers, tired of further
talk and wasted hours of religious debate, had decided to act
on their own initiative. They removed from Parliament all
those who did not agree with their own Puritan views. Thereupon
the ``Rump,'' which was what was left of the old Parliament,
accused the King of high treason. The House of Lords
refused to sit as a tribunal. A special tribunal was appointed
and it condemned the King to death. On the 30th of January
of the year 1649, King Charles walked quietly out of a window
of White Hall onto the scaffold. That day, the Sovereign
People, acting through their chosen representatives, for the
first time executed a ruler who had failed to understand his own
position in the modern state.

The period which followed the death of Charles is usually
called after Oliver Cromwell. At first the unofficial Dictator
of England, he was officially made Lord Protector in the year
1653. He ruled five years. He used this period to continue
the policies of Elizabeth. Spain once more became the arch
enemy of England and war upon the Spaniard was made a national
and sacred issue.

The commerce of England and the interests of the traders
were placed before everything else, and the Protestant creed of
the strictest nature was rigourously maintained. In maintaining
England's position abroad, Cromwell was successful. As a
social reformer, however, he failed very badly. The world is
made up of a number of people and they rarely think alike.
In the long run, this seems a very wise provision. A government
of and by and for one single part of the entire community
cannot possibly survive. The Puritans had been a great
force for good when they tried to correct the abuse of the
royal power. As the absolute Rulers of England they became

When Cromwell died in 1658, it was an easy matter for the
Stuarts to return to their old kingdom. Indeed, they were
welcomed as ``deliverers'' by the people who had found the
yoke of the meek Puritans quite as hard to bear as that of autocratic
King Charles. Provided the Stuarts were willing to forget
about the Divine Right of their late and lamented father
and were willing to recognise the superiority of Parliament, the
people promised that they would be loyal and faithful subjects.

Two generations tried to make a success of this new arrangement.
But the Stuarts apparently had not learned their
lesson and were unable to drop their bad habits. Charles II,
who came back in the year 1660, was an amiable but worthless
person. His indolence and his constitutional insistence upon
following the easiest course, together with his conspicuous success
as a liar, prevented an open outbreak between himself and
his people. By the act of Uniformity in 1662 he broke the
power of the Puritan clergy by banishing all dissenting clergymen
from their parishes. By the so-called Conventicle Act of
1664 he tried to prevent the Dissenters from attending religious
meetings by a threat of deportation to the West Indies. This
looked too much like the good old days of Divine Right. People
began to show the old and well-known signs of impatience,
and Parliament suddenly experienced difficulty in providing
the King with funds.

Since he could not get money from an unwilling Parliament,
Charles borrowed it secretly from his neighbour and cousin
King Louis of France. He betrayed his Protestant allies in
return for 200,000 pounds per year, and laughed at the poor
simpletons of Parliament.

Economic independence suddenly gave the King great faith
in his own strength. He had spent many years of exile among
his Catholic relations and he had a secret liking for their
religion. Perhaps he could bring England back to Rome! He
passed a Declaration of Indulgence which suspended the old
laws against the Catholics and Dissenters. This happened just
when Charles' younger brother James was said to have become
a Catholic. All this looked suspicious to the man in the street
People began to fear some terrible Popish plot. A new spirit
of unrest entered the land. Most of the people wanted to prevent
another outbreak of civil war. To them Royal Oppression
and a Catholic King--yea, even Divine Right,--were
preferable to a new struggle between members of the same
race. Others however were less lenient. They were the much-
feared Dissenters, who invariably had the courage of their
convictions. They were led by several great noblemen who did
not want to see a return of the old days of absolute royal

For almost ten years, these two great parties, the Whigs
(the middle class element, called by this derisive name be-
cause in the year 1640 a lot of Scottish Whiggamores or horse-
drovers headed by the Presbyterian clergy, had marched to
Edinburgh to oppose the King) and the Tories (an epithet
originally used against the Royalist Irish adherents but now
applied to the supporters of the King) opposed each other, but
neither wished to bring about a crisis. They allowed Charles to
die peacefully in his bed and permitted the Catholic James II
to succeed his brother in 1685. But when James, after threatening
the country with the terrible foreign invention of a ``standing
army'' (which was to be commanded by Catholic Frenchmen),
issued a second Declaration of Indulgence in 1688, and
ordered it to be read in all Anglican churches, he went just a
trifle beyond that line of sensible demarcation which can only be
transgressed by the most popular of rulers under very
exceptional circumstances. Seven bishops refused to comply
with the Royal Command. They were accused of ``seditious
libel.'' They were brought before a court. The jury which
pronounced the verdict of ``not guilty'' reaped a rich harvest
of popular approval.

At this unfortunate moment, James (who in a second marriage
had taken to wife Maria of the Catholic house of Modena-
Este) became the father of a son. This meant that the throne
was to go to a Catholic boy rather than to his older sisters,
Mary and Anne, who were Protestants. The man in the street
again grew suspicious. Maria of Modena was too old to have
children! It was all part of a plot! A strange baby had been
brought into the palace by some Jesuit priest that England
might have a Catholic monarch. And so on. It looked as if
another civil war would break out. Then seven well-known
men, both Whigs and Tories, wrote a letter asking the husband
of James's oldest daughter Mary, William III the Stadtholder
or head of the Dutch Republic, to come to England and
deliver the country from its lawful but entirely undesirable

On the fifth of November of the year 1688, William landed
at Torbay. As he did not wish to make a martyr out of his
father-in-law, he helped him to escape safely to France. On
the 22nd of January of 1689 he summoned Parliament. On
the 13th of February of the same year he and his wife Mary
were proclaimed joint sovereigns of England and the country
was saved for the Protestant cause.

Parliament, having undertaken to be something more than
a mere advisory body to the King, made the best of its
opportunities. The old Petition of Rights of the year 1628 was
fished out of a forgotten nook of the archives. A second and
more drastic Bill of Rights demanded that the sovereign of
England should belong to the Anglican church. Furthermore
it stated that the king had no right to suspend the laws or
permit certain privileged citizens to disobey certain laws. It
stipulated that ``without consent of Parliament no taxes could
be levied and no army could be maintained.'' Thus in the year
1689 did England acquire an amount of liberty unknown in
any other country of Europe.

But it is not only on account of this great liberal measure
that the rule of William in England is still remembered. During
his lifetime, government by a ``responsible'' ministry first
developed. No king of course can rule alone. He needs a few
trusted advisors. The Tudors had their Great Council which
was composed of Nobles and Clergy. This body grew too
large. It was restricted to the small ``Privy Council.'' In the
course of time it became the custom of these councillors to meet
the king in a cabinet in the palace. Hence they were called
the ``Cabinet Council.'' After a short while they were known
as the ``Cabinet.''

William, like most English sovereigns before him, had
chosen his advisors from among all parties. But with the increased
strength of Parliament, he had found it impossible to
direct the politics of the country with the help of the Tories
while the Whigs had a majority in the house of Commons.
Therefore the Tories had been dismissed and the Cabinet Council
had been composed entirely of Whigs. A few years later
when the Whigs lost their power in the House of Commons, the
king, for the sake of convenience, was obliged to look for his
support among the leading Tories. Until his death in 1702,
William was too busy fighting Louis of France to bother much
about the government of England. Practically all important
affairs had been left to his Cabinet Council. When William's
sister-in-law, Anne, succeeded him in 1702 this condition of
affairs continued. When she died in 1714 (and unfortunately
not a single one of her seventeen children survived her) the
throne went to George I of the House of Hanover, the son of
Sophie, grand-daughter of James I.

This somewhat rustic monarch, who never learned a word
of English, was entirely lost in the complicated mazes of England's
political arrangements. He left everything to his Cabinet
Council and kept away from their meetings, which bored
him as he did not understand a single sentence. In this way
the Cabinet got into the habit of ruling England and Scotland
(whose Parliament had been joined to that of England
in 1707) without bothering the King, who was apt to spend
a great deal of his time on the continent.

During the reign of George I and George II, a succession of
great Whigs (of whom one, Sir Robert Walpole, held office for
twenty-one years) formed the Cabinet Council of the King.
Their leader was finally recognised as the official leader not
only of the actual Cabinet but also of the majority party in
power in Parliament. The attempts of George III to take
matters into his own hands and not to leave the actual business
of government to his Cabinet were so disastrous that
they were never repeated. And from the earliest years of the
eighteenth century on, England enjoyed representative government,
with a responsible ministry which conducted the affairs
of the land.

To be quite true, this government did not represent all
classes of society. Less than one man in a dozen had the right
to vote. But it was the foundation for the modern representative
form of government. In a quiet and orderly fashion it
took the power away from the King and placed it in the hands
of an ever increasing number of popular representatives. It did
not bring the millenium to England, but it saved that country
from most of the revolutionary outbreaks which proved so
disastrous to the European continent in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries.



As a contrast to the previous chapter, let me tell you what
happened in France during the years when the English people
were fighting for their liberty. The happy combination
of the right man in the right country at the right moment is very
rare in History. Louis XIV was a realisation of this ideal, as
far as France was concerned, but the rest of Europe would
have been happier without him.

The country over which the young king was called to rule
was the most populous and the most brilliant nation of that
day. Louis came to the throne when Mazarin and Richelieu,
the two great Cardinals, had just hammered the ancient French
Kingdom into the most strongly centralised state of the seventeenth
century. He was himself a man of extraordinary ability.
We, the people of the twentieth century, are still
surrounded by the memories of the glorious age of the Sun King.
Our social life is based upon the perfection of manners and the
elegance of expression attained at the court of Louis. In
international and diplomatic relations, French is still the official
language of diplomacy and international gatherings because
two centuries ago it reached a polished elegance and a purity
of expression which no other tongue had as yet been able to
equal. The theatre of King Louis still teaches us lessons
which we are only too slow in learning. During his reign the
French Academy (an invention of Richelieu) came to occupy
a position in the world of letters which other countries have
flattered by their imitation. We might continue this list for
many pages. It is no matter of mere chance that our modern
bill-of-fare is printed in French. The very difficult art of
decent cooking, one of the highest expressions of civilisation,
was first practiced for the benefit of the great Monarch. The
age of Louis XIV was a time of splendour and grace which can
still teach us a lot.

Unfortunately this brilliant picture has another side which
was far less encouraging. Glory abroad too often means
misery at home, and France was no exception to this rule
Louis XIV succeeded his father in the year 1643. He died in
the year 1715. That means that the government of France
was in the hands of one single man for seventy-two years,
almost two whole generations.

It will be well to get a firm grasp of this idea, ``one single
man.'' Louis was the first of a long list of monarchs who in
many countries established that particular form of highly efficient
autocracy which we call ``enlightened despotism.'' He
did not like kings who merely played at being rulers and
turned official affairs into a pleasant picnic. The Kings of
that enlightened age worked harder than any of their subjects.
They got up earlier and went to bed later than anybody else,
and felt their ``divine responsibility'' quite as strongly as their
``divine right'' which allowed them to rule without consulting
their subjects.

Of course, the king could not attend to everything in person.
He was obliged to surround himself with a few helpers
and councillors. One or two generals, some experts upon foreign
politics, a few clever financiers and economists would do
for this purpose. But these dignitaries could act only through
their Sovereign. They had no individual existence. To the
mass of the people, the Sovereign actually represented in his
own sacred person the government of their country. The
glory of the common fatherland became the glory of a single
dynasty. It meant the exact opposite of our own American
ideal. France was ruled of and by and for the House of Bourbon.

The disadvantages of such a system are clear. The King
grew to be everything. Everybody else grew to be nothing at
all. The old and useful nobility was gradually forced to give
up its former shares in the government of the provinces. A little
Royal bureaucrat, his fingers splashed with ink, sitting behind
the greenish windows of a government building in faraway
Paris, now performed the task which a hundred years
before had been the duty of the feudal Lord. The feudal Lord,
deprived of all work, moved to Paris to amuse himself as best
he could at the court. Soon his estates began to suffer from
that very dangerous economic sickness, known as ``Absentee
Landlordism.'' Within a single generation, the industrious
and useful feudal administrators had become the well-mannered
but quite useless loafers of the court of Versailles.

Louis was ten years old when the peace of Westphalia was
concluded and the House of Habsburg, as a result of the
Thirty Years War, lost its predominant position in Europe.
It was inevitable that a man with his ambition should use so
favourable a moment to gain for his own dynasty the honours
which had formerly been held by the Habsburgs. In the year
1660 Louis had married Maria Theresa, daughter of the King
of Spain. Soon afterward, his father-in-law, Philip IV, one
of the half-witted Spanish Habsburgs, died. At once Louis
claimed the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium) as part of his
wife's dowry. Such an acquisition would have been disastrous
to the peace of Europe, and would have threatened the safety
of the Protestant states. Under the leadership of Jan de Witt,
Raadpensionaris or Foreign Minister of the United Seven
Netherlands, the first great international alliance, the Triple
Alliance of Sweden, England and Holland, of the year 1661,
was concluded. It did not last long. With money and fair
promises Louis bought up both King Charles and the Swedish
Estates. Holland was betrayed by her allies and was left to
her own fate. In the year 1672 the French invaded the low
countries. They marched to the heart of the country. For a
second time the dikes were opened and the Royal Sun of
France set amidst the mud of the Dutch marshes. The peace
of Nimwegen which was concluded in 1678 settled nothing but
merely anticipated another war.

A second war of aggression from 1689 to 1697, ending with
the Peace of Ryswick, also failed to give Louis that position in
the affairs of Europe to which he aspired. His old enemy,
Jan de Witt, had been murdered by the Dutch rabble, but his
successor, William III (whom you met in the last chapter),
had checkmated all efforts of Louis to make France the ruler of

The great war for the Spanish succession, begun in the
year 1701, immediately after the death of Charles II, the last
of the Spanish Habsburgs, and ended in 1713 by the Peace
of Utrecht, remained equally undecided, but it had ruined the
treasury of Louis. On land the French king had been victorious,
but the navies of England and Holland had spoiled all
hope for an ultimate French victory; besides the long struggle
had given birth to a new and fundamental principle of international
politics, which thereafter made it impossible for one
single nation to rule the whole of Europe or the whole of the
world for any length of time.

That was the so-called ``balance of power.'' It was not a
written law but for three centuries it has been obeyed as closely
as are the laws of nature. The people who originated the idea
maintained that Europe, in its nationalistic stage of development,
could only survive when there should be an absolute balance
of the many conflicting interests of the entire continent.
No single power or single dynasty must ever be allowed to
dominate the others. During the Thirty Years War, the
Habsburgs had been the victims of the application of this law.
They, however, had been unconscious victims. The issues during
that struggle were so clouded in a haze of religious strife
that we do not get a very clear view of the main tendencies
of that great conflict. But from that time on, we begin to see
how cold, economic considerations and calculations prevail in
all matters of international importance. We discover the
development of a new type of statesman, the statesman with the
personal feelings of the slide-rule and the cash-register. Jan
de Witt was the first successful exponent of this new school
of politics. William III was the first great pupil. And Louis
XIV with all his fame and glory, was the first conscious victim.
There have been many others since.



IN the year 1492, as you know, Columbus discovered America.
Early in the year, a Tyrolese by the name of Schnups,
travelling as the head of a scientific expedition for the
Archbishop of Tyrol, and provided with the best letters
of introduction and excellent credit tried to reach the mythical
town of Moscow. He did not succeed. When he reached the
frontiers of this vast Moscovite state which was vaguely supposed
to exist in the extreme Eastern part of Europe, he was
firmly turned back. No foreigners were wanted. And
Schnups went to visit the heathen Turk in Constantinople, in
order that he might have something to report to his clerical
master when he came back from his explorations.

Sixty-one years later, Richard Chancellor, trying to discover
the North-eastern passage to the Indies, and blown by
an ill wind into the White Sea, reached the mouth of the Dwina
and found the Moscovite village of Kholmogory, a few hours
from the spot where in 1584 the town of Archangel was founded.
This time the foreign visitors were requested to come
to Moscow and show themselves to the Grand Duke. They
went and returned to England with the first commercial treaty
ever concluded between Russia and the western world. Other
nations soon followed and something became known of this
mysterious land.

Geographically, Russia is a vast plain. The Ural mountains
are low and form no barrier against invaders. The
rivers are broad but often shallow. It was an ideal territory for

While the Roman Empire was founded, grew in power and
disappeared again, Slavic tribes, who had long since left their
homes in Central Asia, wandered aimlessly through the forests
and plains of the region between the Dniester and Dnieper
rivers. The Greeks had sometimes met these Slavs and a few
travellers of the third and fourth centuries mention them.
Otherwise they were as little known as were the Nevada Indians
in the year 1800.

Unfortunately for the peace of these primitive peoples, a
very convenient trade-route ran through their country. This
was the main road from northern Europe to Constantinople.
It followed the coast of the Baltic until the Neva was reached.
Then it crossed Lake Ladoga and went southward along the
Volkhov river. Then through Lake Ilmen and up the small
Lovat river. Then there was a short portage until the Dnieper
was reached. Then down the Dnieper into the Black Sea.

The Norsemen knew of this road at a very early date. In
the ninth century they began to settle in northern Russia, just
as other Norsemen were laying the foundation for independent
states in Germany and France. But in the year 862, three
Norsemen, brothers, crossed the Baltic and founded three small
dynasties. Of the three brothers, only one, Rurik, lived for a
number of years. He took possession of the territory of his
brothers, and twenty years after the arrival of this first
Norseman, a Slavic state had been established with Kiev as its

From Kiev to the Black Sea is a short distance. Soon the
existence of an organised Slavic State became known in
Constantinople. This meant a new field for the zealous
missionaries of the Christian faith. Byzantine monks followed the
Dnieper on their way northward and soon reached the heart of
Russia. They found the people worshipping strange gods
who were supposed to dwell in woods and rivers and in mountain
caves. They taught them the story of Jesus. There was
no competition from the side of Roman missionaries. These
good men were too busy educating the heathen Teutons to
bother about the distant Slavs. Hence Russia received its religion
and its alphabet and its first ideas of art and architecture
from the Byzantine monks and as the Byzantine empire (a
relic of the eastern Roman empire) had become very oriental
and had lost many of its European traits, the Russians suffered
in consequence.

Politically speaking these new states of the great Russian
plains did not fare well. It was the Norse habit to divide
every inheritance equally among all the sons. No sooner had
a small state been founded but it was broken up among eight
or nine heirs who in turn left their territory to an ever increasing
number of descendants. It was inevitable that these small
competing states should quarrel among themselves. Anarchy
was the order of the day. And when the red glow of the eastern
horizon told the people of the threatened invasion of a savage
Asiatic tribe, the little states were too weak and too divided
to render any sort of defence against this terrible enemy.

It was in the year 1224 that the first great Tartar invasion
took place and that the hordes of Jenghiz Khan, the conqueror
of China, Bokhara, Tashkent and Turkestan made their first
appearance in the west. The Slavic armies were beaten near
the Kalka river and Russia was at the mercy of the Mongolians.
Just as suddenly as they had come they disappeared.
Thirteen years later, in 1237, however, they returned. In less
than five years they conquered every part of the vast Russian
plains. Until the year 1380 when Dmitry Donskoi, Grand
Duke of Moscow, beat them on the plains of Kulikovo, the
Tartars were the masters of the Russian people.

All in all, it took the Russians two centuries to deliver
themselves from this yoke. For a yoke it was and a most
offensive and objectionable one. It turned the Slavic peasants
into miserable slaves. No Russian could hope to survive un-
less he was willing to creep before a dirty little yellow man who
sat in a tent somewhere in the heart of the steppes of southern
Russia and spat at him. It deprived the mass of the people of
all feeling of honour and independence. It made hunger and
misery and maltreatment and personal abuse the normal state
of human existence. Until at last the average Russian, were he
peasant or nobleman, went about his business like a neglected
dog who has been beaten so often that his spirit has been broken
and he dare not wag his tail without permission.

There was no escape. The horsemen of the Tartar Khan
were fast and merciless. The endless prairie did not give a
man a chance to cross into the safe territory of his neighbour.
He must keep quiet and bear what his yellow master decided
to inflict upon him or run the risk of death. Of course, Europe
might have interfered. But Europe was engaged upon business
of its own, fighting the quarrels between the Pope and
the emperor or suppressing this or that or the other heresy.
And so Europe left the Slav to his fate, and forced him to
work out his own salvation.

The final saviour of Russia was one of the many small states,
founded by the early Norse rulers. It was situated in the heart
of the Russian plain. Its capital, Moscow, was upon a steep
hill on the banks of the Moskwa river. This little principality,
by dint of pleasing the Tartar (when it was necessary to
please), and opposing him (when it was safe to do so), had,
during the middle of the fourteenth century made itself the
leader of a new national life. It must be remembered that the
Tartars were wholly deficient in constructive political ability.
They could only destroy. Their chief aim in conquering new
territories was to obtain revenue. To get this revenue in the
form of taxes, it was necessary to allow certain remnants of
the old political organization to continue. Hence there were
many little towns, surviving by the grace of the Great Khan,
that they might act as tax-gatherers and rob their neighbours
for the benefit of the Tartar treasury.

The state of Moscow, growing fat at the expense of the
surrounding territory, finally became strong enough to risk
open rebellion against its masters, the Tartars. It was successful
and its fame as the leader in the cause of Russian independence
made Moscow the natural centre for all those who
still believed in a better future for the Slavic race. In the year
1458, Constantinople was taken by the Turks. Ten years
later, under the rule of Ivan III, Moscow informed the
western world that the Slavic state laid claim to the worldly
and spiritual inheritance of the lost Byzantine Empire, and
such traditions of the Roman empire as had survived in
Constantinople. A generation afterwards, under Ivan the Terrible,
the grand dukes of Moscow were strong enough to adopt the
title of Caesar, or Tsar, and to demand recognition by the western
powers of Europe.

In the year 1598, with Feodor the First, the old Muscovite
dynasty, descendants of the original Norseman Rurik, came to
an end. For the next seven years, a Tartar half-breed, by the
name of Boris Godunow, reigned as Tsar. It was during
this period that the future destiny of the large masses of the
Russian people was decided. This Empire was rich in land
but very poor in money. There was no trade and there were
no factories. Its few cities were dirty villages. It was composed
of a strong central government and a vast number of
illiterate peasants. This government, a mixture of Slavic,
Norse, Byzantine and Tartar influences, recognised nothing
beyond the interest of the state. To defend this state, it
needed an army. To gather the taxes, which were necessary
to pay the soldiers, it needed civil servants. To pay these many
officials it needed land. In the vast wilderness on the east
and west there was a sufficient supply of this commodity. But
land without a few labourers to till the fields and tend the
cattle, has no value. Therefore the old nomadic peasants
were robbed of one privilege after the other, until finally, during
the first year of the sixteenth century, they were formally
made a part of the soil upon which they lived. The Russian
peasants ceased to be free men. They became serfs or slaves
and they remained serfs until the year 1861, when their fate
had become so terrible that they were beginning to die out.

In the seventeenth century, this new state with its growing
territory which was spreading quickly into Siberia, had become
a force with which the rest of Europe was obliged to
reckon. In 1618, after the death of Boris Godunow, the
Russian nobles had elected one of their own number to be
Tsar. He was Michael, the son of Feodor, of the Moscow family
of Romanow who lived in a little house just outside the

In the year 1672 his great-grandson, Peter, the son of another
Feodor, was born. When the child was ten years old,
his step-sister Sophia took possession of the Russian throne.
The little boy was allowed to spend his days in the suburbs of
the national capital, where the foreigners lived. Surrounded
by Scotch barkeepers, Dutch traders, Swiss apothecaries, Italian
barbers, French dancing teachers and German school-masters,
the young prince obtained a first but rather extraordinary
impression of that far-away and mysterious Europe where
things were done differently.

When he was seventeen years old, he suddenly pushed
Sister Sophia from the throne. Peter himself became the ruler
of Russia. He was not contented with being the Tsar of a
semi-barbarous and half-Asiatic people. He must be the sovereign
head of a civilised nation. To change Russia overnight
from a Byzantine-Tartar state into a European empire was no
small undertaking. It needed strong hands and a capable
head. Peter possessed both. In the year 1698, the great
operation of grafting Modern Europe upon Ancient Russia was
performed. The patient did not die. But he never got over
the shock, as the events of the last five years have shown very



IN the year 1698, Tsar Peter set forth upon his first
voyage to western Europe. He travelled by way of Berlin and
went to Holland and to England. As a child he had almost
been drowned sailing a homemade boat in the duck pond of
his father's country home. This passion for water remained
with him to the end of his life. In a practical way it showed
itself in his wish to give his land-locked domains access to
the open sea.

While the unpopular and harsh young ruler was away
from home, the friends of the old Russian ways in Moscow set
to work to undo all his reforms. A sudden rebellion among
his life-guards, the Streltsi regiment, forced Peter to hasten
home by the fast mail. He appointed himself executioner-in-
chief and the Streltsi were hanged and quartered and killed to
the last man. Sister Sophia, who had been the head of the
rebellion, was locked up in a cloister and the rule of Peter be-
gan in earnest. This scene was repeated in the year 1716 when
Peter had gone on his second western trip. That time the
reactionaries followed the leadership of Peter's half-witted
son, Alexis. Again the Tsar returned in great haste. Alexis
was beaten to death in his prison cell and the friends of the
old fashioned Byzantine ways marched thousands of dreary
miles to their final destination in the Siberian lead mines.
After that, no further outbreaks of popular discontent took
place. Until the time of his death, Peter could reform in peace.

It is not easy to give you a list of his reforms in chronological
order. The Tsar worked with furious haste. He followed
no system. He issued his decrees with such rapidity that it is
difficult to keep count. Peter seemed to feel that everything
that had ever happened before was entirely wrong. The whole
of Russia therefore must be changed within the shortest possible
time. When he died he left behind a well-trained army of
200,000 men and a navy of fifty ships. The old system of government
had been abolished over night. The Duma, or convention
of Nobles, had been dismissed and in its stead, the Tsar
had surrounded himself with an advisory board of state officials,
called the Senate.

Russia was divided into eight large ``governments'' or provinces.
Roads were constructed. Towns were built. Industries
were created wherever it pleased the Tsar, without any regard
for the presence of raw material. Canals were dug and mines
were opened in the mountains of the east. In this land of illiterates,
schools were founded and establishments of higher learning,
together with Universities and hospitals and professional
schools. Dutch naval engineers and tradesmen and artisans
from all over the world were encouraged to move to Russia.
Printing shops were established, but all books must be first read
by the imperial censors. The duties of each class of society
were carefully written down in a new law and the entire system
of civil and criminal laws was gathered into a series of printed
volumes. The old Russian costumes were abolished by Imperial
decree, and policemen, armed with scissors, watching
all the country roads, changed the long-haired Russian mou-
jiks suddenly into a pleasing imitation of smooth-shaven west.

In religious matters, the Tsar tolerated no division of
power. There must be no chance of a rivalry between an
Emperor and a Pope as had happened in Europe. In the year
1721, Peter made himself head of the Russian Church. The
Patriarchate of Moscow was abolished and the Holy Synod
made its appearance as the highest source of authority in all
matters of the Established Church.

Since, however, these many reforms could not be success-
ful while the old Russian elements had a rallying point in the
town of Moscow, Peter decided to move his government to a
new capital. Amidst the unhealthy marshes of the Baltic Sea
the Tsar built this new city. He began to reclaim the land in
the year 1703. Forty thousand peasants worked for years
to lay the foundations for this Imperial city. The Swedes
attacked Peter and tried to destroy his town and illness and
misery killed tens of thousands of the peasants. But the work
was continued, winter and summer, and the ready-made town
soon began to grow. In the year 1712, it was officially de-
clared to be the ``Imperial Residence.'' A dozen years later
it had 75,000 inhabitants. Twice a year the whole city was
flooded by the Neva. But the terrific will-power of the Tsar
created dykes and canals and the floods ceased to do harm.
When Peter died in 1725 he was the owner of the largest city
in northern Europe.

Of course, this sudden growth of so dangerous a rival had
been a source of great worry to all the neighbours. From his
side, Peter had watched with interest the many adventures of
his Baltic rival, the kingdom of Sweden. In the year 1654,
Christina, the only daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, the hero
of the Thirty Years War, had renounced the throne and had
gone to Rome to end her days as a devout Catholic. A Protestant
nephew of Gustavus Adolphus had succeeded the last
Queen of the House of Vasa. Under Charles X and Charles
XI, the new dynasty had brought Sweden to its highest point
of development. But in 1697, Charles XI died suddenly and
was succeeded by a boy of fifteen, Charles XII.

This was the moment for which many of the northern states
had waited. During the great religious wars of the seventeenth
century, Sweden had grown at the expense of her neighbours.
The time had come, so the owners thought, to balance the account.
At once war broke out between Russia, Poland, Denmark
and Saxony on the one side, and Sweden on the other.
The raw and untrained armies of Peter were disastrously beaten
by Charles in the famous battle of Narva in November of
the year 1700. Then Charles, one of the most interesting military
geniuses of that century, turned against his other enemies
and for nine years he hacked and burned his way through the
villages and cities of Poland, Saxony, Denmark and the Baltic
provinces, while Peter drilled and trained his soldiers in distant

As a result, in the year 1709, in the battle of Poltawa, the
Moscovites destroyed the exhausted armies of Sweden. Charles
continued to be a highly picturesque figure, a wonderful hero
of romance, but in his vain attempt to have his revenge, he
ruined his own country. In the year 1718, he was accidentally
killed or assassinated (we do not know which) and when peace
was made in 1721, in the town of Nystadt, Sweden had lost all
of her former Baltic possessions except Finland. The new
Russian state, created by Peter, had become the leading power
of northern Europe. But already a new rival was on the
way. The Prussian state was taking shape.



THE history of Prussia is the history of a frontier district.
In the ninth century, Charlemagne had transferred the old
centre of civilisation from the Mediterranean to the wild regions
of northwestern Europe. His Frankish soldiers had pushed
the frontier of Europe further and further towards the east.
They had conquered many lands from the heathenish Slavs and
Lithuanians who were living in the plain between the Baltic
Sea and the Carpathian Mountains, and the Franks administered
those outlying districts just as the United States used
to administer her territories before they achieved the dignity
of statehood.

The frontier state of Brandenburg had been originally
founded by Charlemagne to defend his eastern possessions
against raids of the wild Saxon tribes. The Wends, a Slavic
tribe which inhabited that region, were subjugated during the
tenth century and their market-place, by the name of Brennabor,
became the centre of and gave its name to the new province
of Brandenburg.

During the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, a succession of noble families exercised the functions of
imperial governor in this frontier state. Finally in the
fifteenth century, the House of Hohenzollern made its appear-
ance, and as Electors of Brandenburg, commenced to change a
sandy and forlorn frontier territory into one of the most efficient
empires of the modern world.

These Hohenzollerns, who have just been removed from
the historical stage by the combined forces of Europe and
America, came originally from southern Germany. They were
of very humble origin. In the twelfth century a certain Frederick
of Hohenzollern had made a lucky marriage and had been
appointed keeper of the castle of Nuremberg. His descendants
had used every chance and every opportunity to improve their
power and after several centuries of watchful grabbing, they
had been appointed to the dignity of Elector, the name given to
those sovereign princes who were supposed to elect the Emperors
of the old German Empire. During the Reformation,
they had taken the side of the Protestants and the early
seventeenth century found them among the most powerful of the
north German princes.

During the Thirty Years War, both Protestants and
Catholics had plundered Brandenburg and Prussia with equal
zeal. But under Frederick William, the Great Elector, the
damage was quickly repaired and by a wise and careful use of
all the economic and intellectual forces of the country, a state
was founded in which there was practically no waste.

Modern Prussia, a state in which the individual and his
wishes and aspirations have been entirely absorbed by the
interests of the community as a whole this Prussia dates back
to the father of Frederick the Great. Frederick William I was
a hard working, parsimonious Prussian sergeant, with a great
love for bar-room stories and strong Dutch tobacco, an intense
dislike of all frills and feathers, (especially if they were of
French origin,) and possessed of but one idea. That idea was
Duty. Severe with himself, he tolerated no weakness in his
subjects, whether they be generals or common soldiers. The
relation between himself and his son Frederick was never cordial,
to say the least. The boorish manners of the father offended
the finer spirit of the son. The son's love for French
manners, literature, philosophy and music was rejected by the
father as a manifestation of sissy-ness. There followed a terrible
outbreak between these two strange temperaments. Frederick
tried to escape to England. He was caught and court-
martialed and forced to witness the decapitation of his best
friend who had tried to help him. Thereupon as part of his
punishment, the young prince was sent to a little fortress
somewhere in the provinces to be taught the details of his future
business of being a king. It proved a blessing in disguise.
When Frederick came to the throne in 1740, he knew how his
country was managed from the birth certificate of a pauper's
son to the minutest detail of a complicated annual Budget.

As an author, especially in his book called the ``Anti-
Macchiavelli,'' Frederick had expressed his contempt for the
political creed of the ancient Florentine historian, who had
advised his princely pupils to lie and cheat whenever it was
necessary to do so for the benefit of their country. The ideal
ruler in Frederick's volume was the first servant of his people,
the enlightened despot after the example of Louis XIV. In
practice, however, Frederick, while working for his people
twenty hours a day, tolerated no one to be near him as a
counsellor. His ministers were superior clerks. Prussia was his
private possession, to be treated according to his own wishes.
And nothing was allowed to interfere with the interest of the

In the year 1740 the Emperor Charles VI, of Austria,
died. He had tried to make the position of his only daughter,
Maria Theresa, secure through a solemn treaty, written black
on white, upon a large piece of parchment. But no sooner had
the old emperor been deposited in the ancestral crypt of the
Habsburg family, than the armies of Frederick were marching
towards the Austrian frontier to occupy that part of Silesia for
which (together with almost everything else in central Europe)
Prussia clamored, on account of some ancient and very
doubtful rights of claim. In a number of wars, Frederick
conquered all of Silesia, and although he was often very near
defeat, he maintained himself in his newly acquired territories
against all Austrian counter-attacks.

Europe took due notice of this sudden appearance of a
very powerful new state. In the eighteenth century, the Germans
were a people who had been ruined by the great religious
wars and who were not held in high esteem by any one. Frederick,
by an effort as sudden and quite as terrific as that of
Peter of Russia, changed this attitude of contempt into one
of fear. The internal affairs of Prussia were arranged so
skillfully that the subjects had less reason for complaint than
elsewhere. The treasury showed an annual surplus instead of a
deficit. Torture was abolished. The judiciary system was
improved. Good roads and good schools and good universities,
together with a scrupulously honest administration, made the
people feel that whatever services were demanded of them,
they (to speak the vernacular) got their money's worth.

After having been for several centuries the battle field of
the French and the Austrians and the Swedes and the Danes
and the Poles, Germany, encouraged by the example of Prussia,
began to regain self-confidence. And this was the work of
the little old man, with his hook-nose and his old uniforms covered
with snuff, who said very funny but very unpleasant things
about his neighbours, and who played the scandalous game of
eighteenth century diplomacy without any regard for the truth,
provided he could gain something by his lies. This in spite of
his book, ``Anti-Macchiavelli.'' In the year 1786 the end
came. His friends were all gone. Children he had never had.
He died alone, tended by a single servant and his faithful
dogs, whom he loved better than human beings because, as he
said, they were never ungrateful and remained true to their



WE have seen how, during the sixteenth and the seventeenth
centuries, the states of our modern world began to take shape.
Their origins were different in almost every case. Some had
been the result of the deliberate effort of a single king. Others
had happened by chance. Still others had been the result of
favourable natural geographic boundaries. But once they had
been founded, they had all of them tried to strengthen their
internal administration and to exert the greatest possible influence
upon foreign affairs. All this of course had cost a great
deal of money. The mediaeval state with its lack of centralised
power did not depend upon a rich treasury. The king got his
revenues from the crown domains and his civil service paid for
itself. The modern centralised state was a more complicated
affair. The old knights disappeared and hired government
officials or bureaucrats took their place. Army, navy, and
internal administration demanded millions. The question then
became where was this money to be found?

Gold and silver had been a rare commodity in the middle
ages. The average man, as I have told you, never saw a gold
piece as long as he lived. Only the inhabitants of the large
cities were familiar with silver coin. The discovery of America
and the exploitation of the Peruvian mines changed all this.
The centre of trade was transferred from the Mediterranean to
the Atlantic seaboard. The old ``commercial cities'' of Italy lost
their financial importance. New ``commercial nations'' took
their place and gold and silver were no longer a curiosity.

Through Spain and Portugal and Holland and England,
precious metals began to find their way to Europe The sixteenth
century had its own writers on the subject of political
economy and they evolved a theory of national wealth which
seemed to them entirely sound and of the greatest possible
benefit to their respective countries. They reasoned that both
gold and silver were actual wealth. Therefore they believed
that the country with the largest supply of actual cash in the
vaults of its treasury and its banks was at the same time the
richest country. And since money meant armies, it followed
that the richest country was also the most powerful and could
rule the rest of the world.

We call this system the ``mercantile system,'' and it was
accepted with the same unquestioning faith with which the
early Christians believed in Miracles and many of the present-
day American business men believe in the Tariff. In practice,
the Mercantile system worked out as follows: To get the
largest surplus of precious metals a country must have a
favourable balance of export trade. If you can export more to
your neighbour than he exports to your own country, he will
owe you money and will be obliged to send you some of his
gold. Hence you gain and he loses. As a result of this creed,
the economic program of almost every seventeenth century
state was as follows:

1. Try to get possession of as many precious metals
as you can.

2. Encourage foreign trade in preference to domestic

3. Encourage those industries which change raw materials
into exportable finished products.

4. Encourage a large population, for you will need workmen
for your factories and an agricultural community
does not raise enough workmen.

5. Let the State watch this process and interfere whenever
it is necessary to do so.

Instead of regarding International Trade as something
akin to a force of nature which would always obey certain natural
laws regardless of man's interference, the people of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries tried to regulate their
commerce by the help of official decrees and royal laws and financial
help on the part of the government.

In the sixteenth century Charles V adopted this Mercantile
System (which was then something entirely new) and introduced
it into his many possessions. Elizabeth of England
flattered him by her imitation. The Bourbons, especially King
Louis XIV, were fanatical adherents of this doctrine and Colbert,
his great minister of finance, became the prophet of Mercantilism
to whom all Europe looked for guidance.

The entire foreign policy of Cromwell was a practical
application of the Mercantile System. It was invariably directed
against the rich rival Republic of Holland. For the Dutch
shippers, as the common-carriers of the merchandise of Europe,
had certain leanings towards free-trade and therefore had
to be destroyed at all cost.

It will be easily understood how such a system must affect
the colonies. A colony under the Mercantile System became
merely a reservoir of gold and silver and spices, which was
to be tapped for the benefit of the home country. The Asiatic,
American and African supply of precious metals and the raw
materials of these tropical countries became a monopoly of
the state which happened to own that particular colony. No
outsider was ever allowed within the precincts and no native
was permitted to trade with a merchant whose ship flew a
foreign flag.

Undoubtedly the Mercantile System encouraged the development
of young industries in certain countries where there
never had been any manufacturing before. It built roads
and dug canals and made for better means of transportation.
It demanded greater skill among the workmen and gave the
merchant a better social position, while it weakened the power
of the landed aristocracy.

On the other hand, it caused very great misery. It made
the natives in the colonies the victims of a most shameless
exploitation. It exposed the citizens of the home country to an
even more terrible fate. It helped in a great measure to turn
every land into an armed camp and divided the world into little
bits of territory, each working for its own direct benefit,
while striving at all times to destroy the power of its neighbours
and get hold of their treasures. It laid so much stress
upon the importance of owning wealth that ``being rich'' came
to be regarded as the sole virtue of the average citizen. Economic
systems come and go like the fashions in surgery and
in the clothes of women, and during the nineteenth century the
Mercantile System was discarded in favor of a system of free
and open competition. At least, so I have been told.



FOR the sake of convenience, we ought to go back a
few centuries and repeat the early history of the great
struggle for colonial possessions.

As soon as a number of European nations had been
created upon the new basis of national or dynastic interests,
that is to say, during and immediately after the Thirty
Years War, their rulers, backed up by the capital of
their merchants and the ships of their trading companies,
continued the fight for more territory in Asia, Africa and America.

The Spaniards and the Portuguese had been exploring the
Indian Sea and the Pacific Ocean for more than a century ere
Holland and England appeared upon the stage. This proved
an advantage to the latter. The first rough work had already
been done. What is more, the earliest navigators had so often
made themselves unpopular with the Asiatic and American and
African natives that both the English and the Dutch were
welcomed as friends and deliverers. We cannot claim any
superior virtues for either of these two races. But they were
merchants before everything else. They never allowed religious
considerations to interfere with their practical common sense.
During their first relations with weaker races, all European
nations have behaved with shocking brutality. The English and
the Dutch, however, knew better where to draw the dine. Provided
they got their spices and their gold and silver and their taxes,
they were willing to let the native live as it best pleased him.

It was not very difficult for them therefore to establish
themselves in the richest parts of the world. But as soon as
this had been accomplished, they began to fight each other for
still further possessions. Strangely enough, the colonial wars
were never settled in the colonies themselves. They were decided
three thousand miles away by the navies of the contending
countries. It is one of the most interesting principles of ancient
and modern warfare (one of the few reliable laws of
history) that ``the nation which commands the sea is also the
nation which commands the land.'' So far this law has never
failed to work, but the modern airplane may have changed it.
In the eighteenth century, however, there were no flying machines
and it was the British navy which gained for England
her vast American and Indian and African colonies.

The series of naval wars between England and Holland in
the seventeenth century does not interest us here. It ended as
all such encounters between hopelessly ill-matched powers will
end. But the warfare between England and France (her other
rival) is of greater importance to us, for while the superior
British fleet in the end defeated the French navy, a great deal
of the preliminary fighting was done on our own American
continent. In this vast country, both France and England
claimed everything which had been discovered and a lot more
which the eye of no white man had ever seen. In 1497 Cabot
had landed in the northern part of America and twenty-seven
years later, Giovanni Verrazano had visited these coasts. Cabot
had flown the English flag. Verrazano had sailed under the
French flag. Hence both England and France proclaimed
themselves the owners of the entire continent.

During the seventeenth century, some ten small English
colonies had been founded between Maine and the Carolinas.
They were usually a haven of refuge for some particular sect
of English dissenters, such as the Puritans, who in the year
1620 went to New England, or the Quakers, who settled in
Pennsylvania in 1681. They were small frontier communities,
nestling close to the shores of the ocean, where people had
gathered to make a new home and begin life among happier
surroundings, far away from royal supervision and interference.

The French colonies, on the other hand, always remained
a possession of the crown. No Huguenots or Protestants were
allowed in these colonies for fear that they might contaminate
the Indians with their dangerous Protestant doctrines and
would perhaps interfere with the missionary work of the Jesuit
fathers. The English colonies, therefore, had been founded
upon a much healthier basis than their French neighbours and
rivals. They were an expression of the commercial energy of
the English middle classes, while the French settlements were
inhabited by people who had crossed the ocean as servants of the
king and who expected to return to Paris at the first possible chance.

Politically, however, the position of the English colonies
was far from satisfactory. The French had discovered the
mouth of the Saint Lawrence in the sixteenth century. From
the region of the Great Lakes they had worked their way southward,
had descended the Mississippi and had built several fortifications
along the Gulf of Mexico. After a century of exploration,
a line of sixty French forts cut off the English settlements
along the Atlantic seaboard from the interior.

The English land grants, made to the different colonial
companies had given them ``all land from sea to sea.'' This
sounded well on paper, but in practice, British territory
ended where the line of French fortifications began. To break
through this barrier was possible but it took both men and
money and caused a series of horrible border wars in which
both sides murdered their white neighbours, with the help of the
Indian tribes.

As long as the Stuarts had ruled England there had been
no danger of war with France. The Stuarts needed the Bourbons
in their attempt to establish an autocratic form of government
and to break the power of Parliament. But in 1689 the
last of the Stuarts had disappeared from British soil and Dutch
William, the great enemy of Louis XIV succeeded him. From
that time on, until the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France and
England fought for the possession of India and North America.

During these wars, as I have said before, the English navies
invariably beat the French. Cut off from her colonies, France
lost most of her possessions, and when peace was declared, the
entire North American continent had fallen into British hands
and the great work of exploration of Cartier, Champlain, La
Salle, Marquette and a score of others was lost to France.

Only a very small part of this vast domain was inhabited.
From Massachusetts in the north, where the Pilgrims (a sect
of Puritans who were very intolerant and who therefore had
found no happiness either in Anglican England or Calvinist
Holland) had landed in the year 1620, to the Carolinas and
Virginia (the tobacco-raising provinces which had been founded
entirely for the sake of profit), stretched a thin line of
sparsely populated territory. But the men who lived in this
new land of fresh air and high skies were very different from
their brethren of the mother country. In the wilderness they
had learned independence and self-reliance. They were the
sons of hardy and energetic ancestors. Lazy and timourous
people did not cross the ocean in those days. The American
colonists hated the restraint and the lack of breathing space
which had made their lives in the old country so very unhappy.
They meant to be their own masters. This the ruling classes
of England did not seem to understand. The government annoyed
the colonists and the colonists, who hated to be bothered
in this way, began to annoy the British government.

Bad feeling caused more bad feeling. It is not necessary
to repeat here in detail what actually happened and what might
have been avoided if the British king had been more intelligent
than George III or less given to drowsiness and indifference
than his minister, Lord North. The British colonists,
when they understood that peaceful arguments would not
settle the difficulties, took to arms. From being loyal subjects,
they turned rebels, who exposed themselves to the punishment
of death when they were captured by the German
soldiers, whom George hired to do his fighting after the pleasant
custom of that day, when Teutonic princes sold whole
regiments to the highest bidder.

The war between England and her American colonies
lasted seven years. During most of that time, the final success
of the rebels seemed very doubtful. A great number of
the people, especially in the cities, had remained loyal to their
king. They were in favour of a compromise, and would have
been willing to sue for peace. But the great figure of Washington
stood guard over the cause of the colonists.

Ably assisted by a handful of brave men, he used his steadfast
but badly equipped armies to weaken the forces of the king.
Time and again when defeat seemed unavoidable, his strategy
turned the tide of battle. Often his men were ill-fed. During
the winter they lacked shoes and coats and were forced to live
in unhealthy dug-outs. But their trust in their great leader
was absolute and they stuck it out until the final hour of victory.

But more interesting than the campaigns of Washington
or the diplomatic triumphs of Benjamin Franklin who was
in Europe getting money from the French government and
the Amsterdam bankers, was an event which occurred early in
the revolution. The representatives of the different colonies
had gathered in Philadelphia to discuss matters of common
importance. It was the first year of the Revolution. Most
of the big towns of the sea coast were still in the hands of the
British. Reinforcements from England were arriving by the
ship load. Only men who were deeply convinced of the righteousness
of their cause would have found the courage to take
the momentous decision of the months of June and July of
the year 1776.

In June, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a motion
to the Continental Congress that ``these united colonies
are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states, that
they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and
that all political connection between them and the state of
Great Britain is and ought to be, totally dissolved.''

The motion was seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts.
It was carried on July the second and on July fourth,
it was followed by an official Declaration of Independence,
which was the work of Thomas Jefferson, a serious and exceedingly
capable student of both politics and government and
destined to be one of the most famous of out American presidents.

When news of this event reached Europe, and was followed
by the final victory of the colonists and the adoption of
the famous Constitution of the year 1787 (the first of all written
constitutions) it caused great interest. The dynastic system
of the highly centralised states which had been developed
after the great religious wars of the seventeenth century had
reached the height of its power. Everywhere the palace of
the king had grown to enormous proportions, while the cities
of the royal realm were being surrounded by rapidly growing
acres of slums. The inhabitants of those slums were showing
signs of restlessness. They were quite helpless. But the
higher classes, the nobles and the professional men, they too
were beginning to have certain doubts about the economic and
political conditions under which they lived. The success of
the American colonists showed them that many things were
possible which had been held impossible only a short time

According to the poet, the shot which opened the battle
of Lexington was ``heard around the world.'' That was a bit
of an exaggeration. The Chinese and the Japanese and the
Russians (not to speak of the Australians, who had just been
re-discovered by Captain Cook, whom they killed for his
trouble,) never heard of it at all. But it carried across the
Atlantic Ocean. It landed in the powder house of European
discontent and in France it caused an explosion which rocked
the entire continent from Petrograd to Madrid and buried the
representatives of the old statecraft and the old diplomacy
under several tons of democratic bricks.



BEFORE we talk about a revolution it is just as well that
we explain just what this word means. In the terms of a
great Russian writer (and Russians ought to know what they
are talking about in this field) a revolution is ``a swift overthrow,
in a few years, of institutions which have taken centuries
to root in the soil, and seem so fixed and immovable that
even the most ardent reformers hardly dare to attack them in
their writings. It is the fall, the crumbling away in a brief
period, of all that up to that time has composed the essence
of social, religious, political and economic life in a nation.''

Such a revolution took place in France in the eighteenth
century when the old civilisation of the country had grown
stale. The king in the days of Louis XIV had become
EVERYTHING and was the state. The Nobility, formerly
the civil servant of the federal state, found itself without any
duties and became a social ornament of the royal court.

This French state of the eighteenth century, however, cost
incredible sums of money. This money had to be produced
in the form of taxes. Unfortunately the kings of France had
not been strong enough to force the nobility and the clergy
to pay their share of these taxes. Hence the taxes were paid
entirely by the agricultural population. But the peasants
living in dreary hovels, no longer in intimate contact with their
former landlords, but victims of cruel and incompetent land
agents, were going from bad to worse. Why should they
work and exert themselves? Increased returns upon their
land merely meant more taxes and nothing for themselves
and therefore they neglected their fields as much as they dared.

Hence we have a king who wanders in empty splendour
through the vast halls of his palaces, habitually followed by
hungry office seekers, all of whom live upon the revenue obtained
from peasants who are no better than the beasts of the
fields. It is not a pleasant picture, but it is not exaggerated.
There was, however, another side to the so-called ``Ancien
Regime'' which we must keep in mind.

A wealthy middle class, closely connected with the nobility
(by the usual process of the rich banker's daughter marrying
the poor baron's son) and a court composed of all the most
entertaining people of France, had brought the polite art of
graceful living to its highest development. As the best brains
of the country were not allowed to occupy themselves with
questions of political economics, they spent their idle hours
upon the discussion of abstract ideas.

As fashions in modes of thought and personal behaviour
are quite as likely to run to extremes as fashion in dress, it
was natural that the most artificial society of that day should
take a tremendous interest in what they considered ``the simple
life.'' The king and the queen, the absolute and unquestioned
proprietors of this country galled France, together with all its
colonies and dependencies, went to live in funny little country
houses all dressed up as milk-maids and stable-boys and played
at being shepherds in a happy vale of ancient Hellas. Around
them, their courtiers danced attendance, their court-musicians
composed lovely minuets, their court barbers devised more
and more elaborate and costly headgear, until from sheer boredom
and lack of real jobs, this whole artificial world of Versailles
(the great show place which Louis XIV had built far
away from his noisy and restless city) talked of nothing but
those subjects which were furthest removed from their own
lives, just as a man who is starving will talk of nothing except

When Voltaire, the courageous old philosopher, playwright,
historian and novelist, and the great enemy of all
religious and political tyranny, began to throw his bombs of
criticism at everything connected with the Established Order
of Things, the whole French world applauded him and his
theatrical pieces played to standing room only. When Jean
Jacques Rousseau waxed sentimental about primitive man
and gave his contemporaries delightful descriptions of the
happiness of the original inhabitants of this planet, (about
whom he knew as little as he did about the children, upon whose
education he was the recognised authority,) all France read
his ``Social Contract'' and this society in which the king and
the state were one, wept bitter tears when they heard Rousseau's
appeal for a return to the blessed days when the real
sovereignty had lain in the hands of the people and when the
king had been merely the servant of his people.

When Montesquieu published his ``Persian Letters'' in
which two distinguished Persian travellers turn the whole existing
society of France topsy-turvy and poke fun at everything
from the king down to the lowest of his six hundred
pastry cooks, the book immediately went through four
editions and assured the writer thousands of readers for his
famous discussion of the ``Spirit of the Laws'' in which the
noble Baron compared the excellent English system with the
backward system of France and advocated instead of an absolute
monarchy the establishment of a state in which the Executive,
the Legislative and the Judicial powers should be in
separate hands and should work independently of each other.
When Lebreton, the Parisian book-seller, announced that
Messieurs Diderot, d'Alembert, Turgot and a score of other
distinguished writers were going to publish an Encyclopaedia
which was to contain ``all the new ideas and the new science
and the new knowledge,'' the response from the side of the
public was most satisfactory, and when after twenty-two years
the last of the twenty-eight volumes had been finished, the
somewhat belated interference of the police could not repress
the enthusiasm with which French society received this most
important but very dangerous contribution to the discussions
of the day.

Here, let me give you a little warning. When you read a
novel about the French revolution or see a play or a movie,
you will easily get the impression that the Revolution was the
work of the rabble from the Paris slums. It was nothing
of the kind. The mob appears often upon the ``evolutionary
stage, but invariably at the instigation and under the
leadership of those middle-class professional men who used the
hungry multitude as an efficient ally in their warfare upon
the king and his court. But the fundamental ideas which
caused the revolution were invented by a few brilliant minds,
and they were at first introduced into the charming drawing-rooms
of the ``Ancien Regime'' to provide amiable diversion
for the much-bored ladies and gentlemen of his Majesty's court.
These pleasant but careless people played with the dangerous
fireworks of social criticism until the sparks fell through
the cracks of the floor, which was old and rotten just
like the rest of the building. Those sparks unfortunately
landed in the basement where age-old rubbish lay in great
confusion. Then there was a cry of fire. But the owner of
the house who was interested in everything except the management
of his property, did not know how to put the small blaze
out. The flame spread rapidly and the entire edifice was consumed
by the conflagration, which we call the Great French Revolution.

For the sake of convenience, we can divide the French
Revolution into two parts. From 1789 to 1791 there was a
more or less orderly attempt to introduce a constitutional
monarchy. This failed, partly through lack of good faith and
stupidity on the part of the monarch himself, partly through
circumstances over which nobody had any control.

From 1792 to 1799 there was a Republic and a first effort
to establish a democratic form of government. But the actual
outbreak of violence had been preceded by many years of
unrest and many sincere but ineffectual attempts at reform.

When France had a debt of 4000 million francs and the
treasury was always empty and there was not a single thing
upon which new taxes could be levied, even good King Louis
(who was an expert locksmith and a great hunter but a very
poor statesman) felt vaguely that something ought to be done.
Therefore he called for Turgot, to be his Minister of Finance.
Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de l'Aulne, a man in the
early sixties, a splendid representative of the fast disappearing
class of landed gentry, had been a successful governor of a
province and was an amateur political economist of great ability.
He did his best. Unfortunately, he could not perform
miracles. As it was impossible to squeeze more taxes out of
the ragged peasants, it was necessary to get the necessary funds
from the nobility and clergy who had never paid a centime.
This made Turgot the best hated man at the court of Versailles.
Furthermore he was obliged to face the enmity of Marie
Antoinette, the queen, who was against everybody who dared
to mention the word ``economy'' within her hearing. Soon
Turgot was called an ``unpractical visionary'' and a ``theoretical-
professor'' and then of course his position became untenable.
In the year 1776 he was forced to resign.

After the ``professor'' there came a man of Practical Business
Sense. He was an industrious Swiss by the name of
Necker who had made himself rich as a grain speculator and
the partner in an international banking house. His ambitious
wife had pushed him into the government service that she
might establish a position for her daughter who afterwards as
the wife of the Swedish minister in Paris, Baron de Stael,
became a famous literary figure of the early nineteenth century.

Necker set to work with a fine display of zeal just as Turgot
had done. In 1781 he published a careful review of the French
finances. The king understood nothing of this ``Compte
Rendu.'' He had just sent troops to America to help the colonists
against their common enemies, the English. This expedition
proved to be unexpectedly expensive and Necker was
asked to find the necessary funds. When instead of producing
revenue, he published more figures and made statistics
and began to use the dreary warning about ``necessary economies''
his days were numbered. In the year 1781 he was
dismissed as an incompetent servant.

After the Professor and the Practical Business Man came
the delightful type of financier who will guarantee everybody

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